As a single mom by way of divorce, I can tell you that parenting solo is a daily marathon. I have a 3-year-old. I went through a divorce with her father during the COVID pandemic. I know a thing or two about stress.
But through these experiences, I’ve also learned a thing or two about managing that stress. The trick is, when you’re a single parent, it’s not easy to get even a moment to yourself. Sometimes, you have to sneak it in.
So, welcome to a few of my favorite tips for navigating life’s daily stresses and snagging a little self-care as a single mom.
1. Own your space
I sleep in the middle of my bed. After I separated from my husband, I woke up one day and realized I was still sleeping on “my” side of the marital bed! The heck? I decided from that day to sleep in the middle, and boy was that freeing — truly a lesson in taking up and owning my own space!
2. Try the box breath
This one is for those moments when the you-know-what hits the fan or, as my therapist says, the wheels come off the bus. Let me introduce you to box breathing. It’s very simple and can be done anywhere — it’s a breathing technique. To soothe the nervous system, inhale to the count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, exhale for four, repeat.
3. Practice a morning gratitude ritual
Sure it would be great (maybe?) to wake up at 6 a.m. before the kids, savor a cup of coffee (outside), and meditate before showering, having breakfast with the kids (homemade pancakes, of course), and heading off to work. But we’re real moms here, am I right?!
I like to keep a journal at my bedside and sometimes play an affirmation meditation from the Superhuman app while I get dressed for the day and put on my undereye concealer.
I keep a “celebration list” that a meditation teacher from Spirit Mamas told me about. It’s a list of everything I’ve accomplished — big and small. It fosters gratitude and excitement for all I have done.
4. Read a few pages at a time
I keep a stack of books that speak to my soul… on the back of my toilet! This way, I can read a few pages at a time and actually complete books over time. Don’t hate the process— for this mom, it works!
5. Get cozy on the lonely nights
I invested in a weighted blanket for my bed for those lonely winter nights. Call it sad or depressing, but I found it very comforting during my darkest and loneliest days binging “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce” and “Single Parents.”
6. Create a DIY spa
I have a spray bottle of eucalyptus essential oil for my shower that makes the whole thing smell like the steam room at Equinox or a fancy spa — no day pass required! It’s so relaxing.
7. Go hands free
I ditched my heavy mom bag for a crossbody belt bag (I think we called these “fanny packs” in the ’90s) that fits my wallet, keys, air pods, and phone so I can be hands free with my toddler. I use the Kibou bag, and fun fact — it actually doubles as a diaper bag with a built-in wipes pocket! I’m still rocking it now that my girl is 3 and potty trained. Anthropologie also makes a cute sling bag with a patterned strap.
8. Share beloved activities with your children
The best tip for self-care as a single mom was given to me by a family member: The more you can share activities you love with your little one, the better. Love to garden? Do it together! Love to paint? Together! Love to read? In bed together every night! Shared memories from “mommy and me” activities truly are the best.